I say the darndest things…
…when I answer questions about what I do. There are a number of reasons why I find my responses intriguing -
- I do not consider myself to be eloquent.
- When I take a step back and try and reflect I often have difficulty organizing my ideas into words (hopefully blogging will help).
- I wholeheartedly believe that what I do could be vastly more difficult if it was just me alone in the classroom (you know, like most teachers).
Therefore, I am often surprised that the words coming out of my mouth are coherent and that they actually exude what I want to say. As I said in #1, I do not consider myself to be super eloquent. So for me to sound like that, I think it is essential that the person asking the questions is interested (or at least appears so to me). My theory is I feed off that interest and become much more engaged in the conversation. In the same vein, when the questions are specific and direct it is easier to provide an effective and efficient answer.
When my students struggle with trying to find the words to express their answer, I believe they feel as ineloquent as I. There are a few tools that I have found reliable (maybe even worthy to be called teacher moves?) in helping students express themselves, even if it is only in entirely confusing, muddled sentences. They are
- A smile to set them at ease.
- A precious few seconds to think about their answer while I repeat the problem.
- Other questions (lower on Bloom’x Taxonomy) that push the student towards the answer to the initial question.
The importance of each depends on the student, though the order in which they stand above are the order in which I personally view them. And while I like to think I have been successful in pushing students to develop deeper understandings so far, there are still times when I feel I am not getting the most from them. I could always spend more time planning checks for understanding (or CFUs) but maybe the key is to be more interested in what the students have to say, rather than simply waiting for the “correct” answer I expected to hear.